Wonder how damned dumb people are? 1 in 7 thinks the world will end in their lifetime. 1 in 10 thinks it ends this year!


Oops!

Nearly 15 percent of people worldwide believe the world will end during their lifetime and 10 percent think the Mayan calendar could signify it will happen in 2012, according to a new poll…

“Whether they think it will come to an end through the hands of God, or a natural disaster or a political event, whatever the reason, one in seven thinks the end of the world is coming,” said Keren Gottfried, research manager at Ipsos Global Public Affairs which conducted the poll for Reuters.

Responses to the international poll of 16,262 people in more than 20 countries varied widely with only six percent of French residents believing in an impending Armageddon in their lifetime, compared to 22 percent in Turkey and the United States and slightly less in South Africa and Argentina…

About one in 10 people globally also said they were experiencing fear or anxiety about the impending end of the world in 2012. The greatest numbers were in Russia and Poland, the fewest in Great Britain.

Gottfried also said that people with lower education or household income levels, as well as those under 35 years old, were more likely to believe in an apocalypse during their lifetime or in 2012, or have anxiety over the prospect.

RTFA for a list of countries polled. I don’t need to know which religions had the lead in apocalyptic paranoia. I still have problems dealing with the fact that these people get to vote.

Did dinosaurs fart themselves into extinction?


 
Some scientific findings are just too good to leave alone, even if you don’t know if they can ever be confirmed: Such is the case for a study saying that plant-eating dinosaurs could have emitted enough digestive methane to warm Earth’s climate 150 million years ago.

“It is known that the time of these dinosaurs was warmer than now,” said David Wilkinson…lead author of a paper on the subject appearing in the journal Current Biology. “This is explained usually by an enhanced greenhouse effect, mainly carbon dioxide. If we are correct, then methane from sauropods may have been a contributor to this greenhouse effect.”

Methane is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, and modern-day livestock are thought to be responsible for about a quarter of the methane released in the United States. Some say that the belches and flatulence of cattle, pigs and sheep are a significant contributor to the warming effect caused by greenhouse-gas emissions. So why wouldn’t it have been the same in the age of giant plant-eating dinosaurs, when global biomass density was at least several times what it is today..?

He and his colleagues ran the numbers, using what they saw as conservative estimates for the total amount of dinosaur biomass and methane production rates per kilogram of body mass. They came up with a figure of 520 million tons of methane emitted per year, which is more than total modern-day methane emissions from all sources, natural and industrial. The current estimate for total methane emission is around 500 million tons a year, with 50 to 100 million tons of that coming from ruminant animals such as cows and goats, Wilkinson said…

Biologists have found that most of the modern-day methane emissions from livestock come from belching rather than flatulence. Was it the same for dinosaurs? “We have no particular view which end of the sauropod the methane came out,” Wilkinson told me. “Could be either or both…”

“What our simple calculations show is that, yes, it could. It’s a real possibility. But we don’t show that it did happen,” he said. “That would require much more work, and indeed it may be impossible to completely prove this without a time machine.”

Perhaps we might send some sort of device back through — eventually. It needn’t have a human pilot. Just a sensor-sniffer of sorts.

Maybe the best way to forget a war – is to bring part of it back home?


Playing with dogs at Nowzad

Spot made the clandestine journey from the Afghan Taliban stronghold of Helmand to the capital Kabul, where he is undergoing medical treatment before moving to the United States to live with the family of the Marine who rescued him.

His ears clipped and tail severed from his days as a fighting dog, the surprisingly docile ginger and white mutt is one of hundreds being adopted in increasing numbers by foreign soldiers, who pay vast sums to take their new pets home.

“Dogs have been proven to help post-traumatic stress and the soldiers who adopt them are addressing this,” said Pen Farthing, founder of British charity Nowzad, an animal shelter on the outskirts of Kabul.

A former Royal Marine, Farthing adopted his dog Nowzad, named after a Helmand district, during his tour there in 2006. He then set up the charity, where dogs and some cats are neutered and vaccinated against rabies before their journeys abroad…

We’re seeing more soldier rescues than ever before. When you’re being shot at by the Taliban every day, dogs give you that little bit of normality,” Farthing said by a row of outdoor pens holding black and yellow puppies.

Nearby stood Dshka, an affectionate grey hound rescued by a U.S. Marine sergeant in Kajaki in Helmand, where British forces handed security to the U.S. in 2010 as part of the American troop surge. His neighbor, Poppy, a small black dog from Kandahar, will soon go to a British soldier’s home…

Workers at Nowzad are now hoping that Afghans will begin to adopt dogs, banking on a changing attitude to owning pets. Poverty prevents many Afghans from having dogs and cats at home, and some Muslims believe dogs are unclean and therefore unfit for keeping. Kabul is home to thousands of stray dogs, and many are shot and killed…

Afghan families are beginning to adopt dogs from Nowzad, they said, giving promise to the charity’s goal to become Afghan-led in the future.

One can only hope. And help when you can afford it.

In many ways this is a global battle worth fighting for. And it doesn’t require billions of dollars for bombs and bullets, rockets and rifles.

Mother sends son to school with stun gun to confront bullies

An Indiana mother who sent her gay son to school with a stun gun after administrators apparently didn’t do enough to stop the bullying against him said she would do it again — even though the teen now faces expulsion.

“I do not promote violence — not at all — but what is a parent to do when she has done everything that she felt she was supposed to do … at the school?” the mother, Chelisa Grimes, told CNN’s Don Lemon on Sunday. “I did feel like there was nothing else left for me to do, but protect my child.”

The school district held an expulsion hearing last week but no decision has been announced…

Mail me a penny postcard when the school district questions the implementation of their failed policies.

After six other students surrounded Darnell at school on April 16, calling him names and threatening to beat him up, Young pulled the stun gun from his backpack. He raised it in the air, setting off an electric charge, and sending the group scurrying, Young said…

“I got kicked out of school for me bringing the weapon to school, but I honestly don’t think that that was fair,” Young said. “I didn’t use it on nobody. … All I did was raise it up in the air and went back to my class…”

School police officers arrested him a short time later and took him away in handcuffs, The Indianapolis Star reported. School officials are investigating the incident, but none of the students who allegedly surrounded Young has been positively identified…

And no one – from school officials to local coppers – has done a damned thing to protect this student.

Grimes contends that school officials haven’t done enough to protect all students on campus.

“I think that the self-protection device is what’s making the news, but the big picture is that my child is not the only one who does not feel safe at our school,” she said…

A 2009 survey of 7,261 middle and high school students found that nearly nine out of 10 LGBT students had experienced harassment at school over the previous year and nearly two-thirds felt unsafe because of their sexual orientation.

Accusing the victim is part of the American ethos. It’s always easier than trying to resolve questions of ethics. As a rule, authorities are generally cowards in the face of bigotry and bullying. They’ve only just learned that they must pretend to act to seem a little bit competent and concerned.

Yes, it would be nice to be able to count on officialdom to live up to the regulations they passed – but, the need to protect yourself from the violence of bigots is a stronger and deeper imperative. I applaud Mrs. Grimes and her son.

The percentage of premature births in the United States is no better than most developing countries

Fifteen million babies are born prematurely each year, and the United States fared badly in the first country-by-country global comparison of premature births…released by the World Health Organization and other agencies.

Although American hospitals excel at saving premature infants, the United States is similar to developing countries in the percentage of mothers who give birth before their children are due, the study’s chief author noted. It does worse than any Western European country and considerably worse than Japan or the Scandinavian countries.

That stems from the unique American combination of many pregnant teenagers and many women older than 35 who are giving birth, sometimes to twins or triplets implanted after in vitro fertilization…often deliberately delivered early by Caesarean section to avoid the unpredictable risks of vaginally delivering multiple full-term babies.

Also, many American women of childbearing age have other risk factors for premature birth, like obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure or smoking habits. And the many women who lack health insurance often do not see doctors early in their pregnancies, when problems like high blood pressure or genital infections can be headed off…

The report, three years in the making, is the first to compare premature birthrates in 184 countries. It was produced jointly by the W.H.O., Save the Children, the March of Dimes and the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, which has more than 400 member organizations. Other contributors include nearly 40 major American, European and United Nations health and foreign aid agencies and foundations…

The rate in the United States has risen 30 percent since 1981

In his study of 2,100 Mexican-Americans and immigrants from Mexico, Dr. Radek K. Bukowski, an expert on preterm birth at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, found that the longer a woman lived in this country, the greater her chances of giving birth prematurely. The risk was 4 percent for recent immigrants, 7 percent for those living here less than a decade and 10 percent for citizens.

Even after controlling for risk factors like age, poverty, smoking, obesity and diabetes, “we really don’t have an explanation for what’s behind it,” Dr. Bukowski said. “But whatever it is, it’s not genetic. It’s something they acquire here.”

As the researchers said, it’s time for more study.

I don’t see any problem getting the research done. As usual, if government intervention is needed whether for essential education or repairing a defect in the system – unless we sort out an incompetent Congress and non-leadership from the White House nothing will be accomplished.

New technology may have found Virginia Dare colony

For centuries, the Tidewater coast of North Carolina has held one of early America’s oldest secrets: the fate of more than 100 English colonists who vanished from their island outpost in the late 1500s.

Theories abound about what happened to the so-called Lost Colony, ranging from sober scholarship to science fiction…The shroud of mystery may finally be lifting. The British Museum’s re-examination of a 16th-century coastal map using 21st-century imaging techniques has revealed hidden markings that show an inland fort where the colonists could have resettled after abandoning the coast…

James Horn, vice president of research and historical interpretation at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, cautioned that the Lost Colony had not been found. But the findings do provide the clearest marker yet for future archaeological excavations, which, if successful, could pinpoint where the settlers went…

The discovery came from a watercolor map in the British Museum’s permanent collection that was drawn by the colony’s governor, John White. Hoping to establish a New World foothold for the English, White took the settlers to their original location, Roanoke Island, just inside the chain of barrier islands known today as the Outer Banks…

White returned to England for supplies, but an attack by the Spanish Armada delayed his return for three years. When he did return, the settlers had vanished…

Even White’s map, which was included in a 2007 British Museum exhibition, appeared to hold no clues. But two small patches layered atop the map intrigued Brent Lane, a member of the board of the First Colony Foundation who was helping research the site of an American Indian village…

The British Museum agreed to investigate, and it used infrared light, X-ray spectroscopy and other imaging techniques to look beneath the patches. The larger patch, which was the focus of Mr. Lane’s curiosity, indeed appeared to show a correction to coastal topography.

What lay under the second one stunned Mr. Lane. The patch hid a four-pointed star outlined in blue and filled in red, according to the British Museum’s report. The patch also covered a smaller, enigmatic marking, possibly a second settlement.

To historians, the star where two rivers emptied into Albemarle Sound probably represented a fort or the intended location of one, and its discovery greatly increases the likelihood that the colonists retreated to the spot…

All of which only deepens the mystery, said Karen Kupperman, a colonial history scholar at New York University. She called the finding “very, very interesting.”

“To my mind, the most interesting question at this point is why were the patches put on, and who put them on, and when,” she said.

Time to start the dig. 🙂